Swiss EV Firm Pitches Investors On The Niche Mindset

Martin Schwoerer
by Martin Schwoerer
swiss ev firm pitches investors on the niche mindset

Now that the worst part of the global economic crisis is over, investors are fired up for any investment opportunity that looks good and doesn’t smell funny. Especially in the alternative-energy field. Some ventures make sense while others are based on a rather exotic logic. Better Place, for instance: its institutional investors say it’s “the only EV + infrastructure play”, and therefore something you’d better not miss. I’d just say it requires weird financial reasoning to justify electric filling stations stocked with expensive exchange batteries.

Earlier this week, I was at Mindset Holding’s press conference in Switzerland, where they announced they had received 75 million Swiss Francs of financing from a US fund, GEM Group, with another 108 millions optional. Mindset will be using this money to produce its exotic electric sports coupe — the one I thought was fantastically forward-looking when I witnessed it last year.

Is this madness? After all, Mindset in 2012 will be competing with Tesla’s Model S, the Fisker Karma, and numerous electrified or hybridized German and Japanese luxury cars. Who’d spend 100,000 Francs on a Swiss made electric three-seater?

Well, first of all, Mindset has assembled a team of pretty impressive industrial partners. The car will be built by Xenatec, a contract manufacturing company that is already set to produce the spectacular (and odd) Maybach Coupe. Brusa, a leading Switzerland-based supplier, will be demonstrating the quality of their battery and electronics in the electric coupe. Mindset’s REX (range-extender engine) is a wonderfully innovative, low-friction one-cylinder machine that, because it uses roller bearings, will probably never need an oil change and doesn’t mind standing times of several months. Weighing only 38 KG as a combined motor-generator unit, it is made by Swissauto, another company to watch.

Management looks fit, too. Mindset’s CEO, Lorenzo Schmid, is something of a celebrity in both the investment and EV fields. The company’s COO, Leon Hustinx, spent several decades at Mercedes, and in the end was in charge of marketing the Maybach and the SLR McLaren, so he knows something about the premium segment. (No, you don’t have to remind me that the Maybach is not desirable). In Prof. Paolo Tumminelli, Mindset has a communications VP who is a renowned author of automotive design books.

Still — would you bank $190 million on a car with a radical new concept and new technology, which will be selling to a new market? The lame-snark response would be to call anybody who did reckless.

My opinion: the more daring, unusual, advanced cars out there, the better. Without this kind of risky investing philosophy, the Citroen DS would never have been built. Down with beancounter cars! Capitalism is all about progress.

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4 of 11 comments
  • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Nov 12, 2010

    Is it some kind of negative leading indicator, that when I clicked on your embedded link, to, your system came back with the message 'page not found'?

    • Martin schwoerer Martin schwoerer on Nov 12, 2010

      Link broken Robert, I'll tell the boss; in the mean time please try

  • Felis Concolor Felis Concolor on Nov 12, 2010

    I love those wide open floor spaces, which is just one of the reasons I still want to add a late 60s FWD Eldorado to my oddities stable. The growth of the center console to become the dominant styling feature in modern automobile interiors is tiring to look at in addition to its visual mass. The unsupported dashboard of yesteryear has a light, airy look reminiscent of a slender concrete arch compared to the heft of the Brooklyn Bridge's pilings. The bench seat may elicit musings of pickup truck simplicity, but from what I can see there the materials used to line the interior exude lots of class, especially that slick leather pouch in place of the traditional storage cubby/glove box. Perhaps give it a shoulder strap and make it detachable for use as a traditional wallet/purse? This would definitely tie it further with the car as fashion accessory. The side opening rear glass is an ingenious method of maintaining good rear storage area access while allowing the unbroken loop in the back to add structural rigidity without unnecessary additional mass. The exposed rear wheels with fenders? I love it; it acknowledges the dead space most automobiles suffer outside of the rear wheel arches without attempting to disguise it with the added mass of swelled quarter panels. It will also be much easier to clean out accumulated dust and grime at journey's end. It's been a couple of years since I first laid eyes on the concept renderings, then finished prototype, and it is still distinctive and attractive. The larger diameter wheel shod with what appears to be 50 series rubber should offer a longer-than-wide contact patch, which will definitely aid in offering good tractive and stopping power while not being a slouch for lateral acceleration either. Their initial projection for the "range extender" engine's output power indicates the early thinking for gas/diesel-electric hybrid drive systems; size the engine's maximum output power towards the trip average requirements and let the battery bank's reserve handle the demand as necessary. This should ensure outstanding fuel consumption figures even with an early start to maintain battery bank reserves on longer trips. The biggest negative to me is it will never be available for new purchase in the USA; the safety standards squabble coupled with the nonsensical 25 year import rule ensures continuing lockout between otherwise compatible markets.

    • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Nov 12, 2010

      Oh my! Every time someone mentions "range anxiety" or "range extender", dirty thoughts enter my mind. ;O)

  • Alan The Prado shouldn't have the Landcruiser name attached. It isn't a Landcruiser as much as a Tacoma or 4 Runner or a FJ Cruiser. Toyota have used the Landcruiser name as a marketing exercise for years. In Australia the RAV4 even had Landcruiser attached years ago! The Toyota Landcruiser is the Landcruiser, not a tarted up Tacoma wagon.Here a GX Prado cost about $61k before on roads, this is about $41k USD. This is a 2.8 diesel 4x4 with all the off road tricky stuff, plus AC, power windows, etc. I'm wondering if Toyota will perform the Nissan Armada treatment on it and debase the Prado. The Patrol here is actually as capable and possibly more capable than the Landcruiser off road (according to some reviews). The Armada was 'muricanised and the off road ability was reduced a lot. Who ever heard of a 2 wheel drive Patrol.Does the US need the Prado? Why not. Another option to choose from built by Toyota that is overpriced and uses old tech.My sister had a Prado Grande, I didn't think much of it. It was narrow inside and not that comfortable. Her Grand Cherokee was more comfortable and now her Toureg is even more comfortable, but you can still feel the road in the seat of your pants and ears.
  • Jeffrey No tis vehicle doen't need to come to America. The market if flooded in this segment what we need are fun affordable vehicles.
  • Nrd515 I don't really see the point of annual inspections, especially when the car is under 3 years (warranty) old. Inspections should be safety related, ONLY, none of the nonsensical CA ARB rules that end up being something like, "Your air intake doesn't have an ARB sticker on it, so you have to remove it and buy one just like it that does have the ARB sticker on it!". If the car or whatever isn't puking smoke out of it, and it doesn't make your eyes water, like an old Chevy Bel-Air I was behind on Wed did, it's fine. I was stuck in traffic behind that old car, and wow, the gasoline smell was super potent. It was in nice shape, but man, it was choking me. I was amused by the 80 something old guy driving it, he even had a hat with a feather in it, THE sign of someone you don't want to be driving anywhere near you.
  • Lou_BC "15mpg EPA" The 2023 ZR2 Colorado is supposed to be 16 mpg
  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂